Autumn highlights: our garden birds
Goodbye summer, hello autumn…and of course along the way comes a greater chill in the air. Depending on where you live in the country, you may have felt it, and the change in weather is clear by taking a brief glance outside; take note, more and more people are wearing their woollies and coats.
We’ve been lucky this year because of an extended Indian summer, which lasted well into September. This abundance of sunshine will of course have had an impact on the growth of natural sustenance in our surrounding forests and countryside: berries, nuts and such often flourish as a result, and birds, quite naturally, are more attracted to this store of food than what we provide in our gardens. They simply have no need to resort to the food in our feeders. Lucky them for being spoilt.
Saying this, the advice is not to stop feeding our garden birds; of course not. We all know the general rule of thumb that a constant supply of food for our birds keeps them coming back. This is primarily for us to indicate that our gardens are a source of food in times of need (i.e. in the depths of winter) or as a fall back for when natural supplies are low (i.e. a poor harvest in autumn), as well as those critical periods of time such as breeding, fledgling and moulting.
So what should you do? We would advise as best practice for you to maintain a level of food that is just enough for feeding your birds. You may not need to completely fill your feeders, but do make sure you keep a little food available so that your birds maintain their routine visits to your garden. As always, ensure you keep fresh food in your feeders, as you may need to change it from time to time.
What about autumn migrants?
Alongside all of this, consider migration (see our article on Migration: what to expect over the next few months), as you may notice an increase of visitors from northern parts of Europe. Expect Starlings, Robins, Thrushes, Chaffinches and Goldcrests to come in from abroad and, in some cases, swell native numbers extensively – Starling populations can swell greatly and you’ll be able to view their magnificent murmurations from mid-October to mid-November. Most of these birds will travel to surrounding forests and countryside, but be prepared with food to welcome one or two visitors to your gardens.
What food should I feed my birds in autumn?
As the weather descends into a more bitter state of affair, and once our birds have used up those natural foods in the wild, we need to consider their dietary requirements. The essence here is “energy”, and we should put out food that is rich and complete with choice protein and healthy fats for encouraging a good existence for our garden birds.
See below for popular bird food choices over autumn.